Sunday, June 6, 2010

System Test and Other Activities

One of my activity goals while here was to participate in the Weight Watchers “Walk-it Challenge” which was basically an informal challenge to walk 5K (3.1 miles).  Today was the day my friend and former walking partner, Karen, and I had decided we would do our walk.  This morning I left at 7:00 to be at her house by 7:30 so we could do our walk before it got hot.  Does it count if we stopped halfway through and had a quick latte at Starbucks?  Of course!

While I was gone, Jim unplugged us from the power pole at 8:00 a.m. to start testing the solar system.  When I got home, he pointed out that we had 5 fans, several lights, one TV, 2 computers, a router, and various other small electric things running and here was our Xantrex power monitor reading:

Ellie 002 

The green light for the inverter is on, indicating the inverter is running and providing AC power.  The orange Batt. Full light is lit, indicating that our batteries are fully charged.  The meter also shows a full charge. 

Outside, he showed me the Solar Monitor:

Ellie 004This monitor tells us what type of charge we’re getting, and we can change the monitor‘s input to show our house battery volts, solar charging amps, or engine battery volts.  The number displayed, 22.2, is the solar charging amps.  This number varied all day, depending on how much sun we were getting.  The lowest number I saw was around 8.7, and the highest was just over 23 amps.  The day started out mostly cloudy, but by noon or so, it was mostly sunny.  The less sun, the fewer amps and vice-versa.

The house batteries varied from fully charged to nearly fully charged for 8.5 hours today.  We discovered that the air conditioners do not run on the inverter, so we just left the windows open and 5 fans running all day, along with the computers, TV, lights, etc. 

We’ve declared the test a success!  We are very pleased with the performance of the system.  The controller is very smart, it automatically adjusts the charge from bulk to taper to float as needed.  Need an explanation of all that?  Well, my simple mind can only grasp the basics, but as I understand, bulk is when the batteries need the most charging, taper is when they are nearing a fully charged state and should not receive a full blast of power, and float is when they are all charged up and just need maintaining.  Once we plug back in to AC power, the controller senses that the system is no longer needed and it just stops charging.  Late this afternoon it finally got too warm to be comfortable with the fans and open windows, so we shut the system down, plugged in to power and started up the air conditioners.

In other news, we invited our kids over for an impromptu cook-out today, so they all accepted – why not, free food!  Daughter Robin, grandson Jacob with Robin’s special friend Paul and his daughter Arianna, along with son Josh and his special friend Melissa all arrived in time for burgers, hot dogs and sausages on the grill.    I added some fresh veggies on the grill, and we all enjoyed a great time together. 

Yesterday, after my Weight Watchers meeting and a breakfast with friends Ken and Anne, I asked Jim if he would mind stopping at the Verizon store so I could look at some of the newest smart phone offerings.  We have the “New Every Two” option on our account, and we were eligible for an early phone upgrade now.  I had a Blackberry Storm, didn’t like it at all and inactivated it several months ago.  We keep seeing where our friends and kids are getting smart phones, so I wanted to see if one of those might work better for me.  What I didn’t like about the Blackberry was primarily related to the touch screen – I had a terrible time typing on that thing!  I also thought the operating system was slow and difficult to navigate.  Robin was showing us her phone a couple of weeks ago and I liked the feature she has with a “regular” keyboard that slides out from behind the phone.  She was showing us some of the apps she has and I thought it looked fairly easy to use.  I’d been shopping on the Verizon web site, but wanted to talk to someone in person and actually play with one of the new phones to see if I could easily use it.  Well, we ended up walking out a couple of hours later with two Motorola Droids!  I was surprised that Jim decided he would get one too – of course the “Buy One, Get One Free” promotion helped him make that choice!

We spent most of the afternoon poking around on our phones and shopping for apps.  I can already tell we will be shopping for awhile – there are a huge number of them out there!  Need navigation, weather, shopping lists, coin flips, games, flashlight, sports, news, calculators?  Yes, there’s an app for that!  Many are free, many cost a small fee, but whatever you need, I think there’s an app out there!  Oh, yes, and we did figure out how to make and answer phone calls!  You can even scan bar codes in a store and comparison shop to see what the item costs at other stores!  There is a world of difference between the Droid and the Blackberry.  So far, I’m really glad we made the leap.

And, last but not least, we heard from fellow RV-Dreamers and fulltimers, Ed and Marilyn.  They have arrived at Mountaindale Campground just across the Army base from us, where they will be spending most of the summer.  Luckily, they arrived this year before our departure date, so we will be getting together with them this coming week!  The last year or so, they got here a little later, and we missed them.  I’m so glad we will have the chance to get in a visit this year.

Busy, but happy!


Gypsy said...

You sound so knowledgeable about the workings of the solar system, and I'm envious! I've never been able to get my mind wrapped around it, and probably never will. It sounds wonderful, though, to be able to rely on the sun to provide so much.

Darrell and Judy Patterson said...

You guys are now all set for your boondocking escapades next winter/spring. Sounds like the test was not only successful but very enlightening as to what you can expect from your system. I'm very happy for you (and extremely jealous). :-)

Mark and Dortha said...

Glad you test run on the solar panels worked to your liking. Sounds like an adventue in the making.

Congratulations on your upgrade to the Droids. We are continuing to learn on ours and so far love all the apps we have tried out.

Hugs to you both.